The free cross-platform 3D rendering program Daz 3D Studio comes with poseable human being objects and scenes to render which are now so real they are sometimes indistinguishable from photos.
In this article we show how to get Daz 3D and set it up on your computer and get started rendering real-looking humans.
The first step is to obtain Daz 3D. You may be wondering how it’s possible to download and use a professional quality rendering engine for free. With Daz Studio’s business model they let you have the program for free, but you pay for models of people, clothes, scenes, etc. afterwards.
It’s a great idea and one which means professional quality CG human figures are available in a scalable way for both independent artists and filmmakers all the way up to Hollywood big budget films.
1. Go to www.daz3d.com and download the software for your platform.
2. First fill in your name and email address in the form.
3. Once registered you get an email confirming your registration. Then when you confirm, you automatically get a download for your platform of the installer manager program.
You needn’t be afraid of this file; it contains no malicious software and just helps you keep track of all the elements you download, which are many.
4. Once you’ve installed the installer manager you can begin the process of installing the 3D software.
5. You must sign into your account on the website (the software puts it up for you in your browser) and tick the box to sign the user agreement.
6. Once that’s done, you can begin downloading the software with the install manager. (This screen is the Mac version.)
Any products you’ve bought (or gotten for free on the Daz 3D website) and any updates to existing products will be automatically accessible through this download client. Tick all the ones you want to install, and wait for them to finish.
Start Daz 3D with the icon that’s deposited on your desktop.
Basic Rendering starts with the interface which takes a bit of getting used to. (This following info is for the PC version, but all versions are quite similar.)
On the left you have your assets or models. In the centre is the modelling and posing area. On the top right is the viewport which can be switched from other views to the camera for rendering. To render a basic scene you have to look at your assets on the left. For example, click the tab marked Products, then the drop-down Ready to Render.
In the window you’ll see a girl in a bathing suit. Tear your eyes away from her and scroll down to Sci-fi Warrior.
Double-click on the scene to load it. It may take some time depending on the speed of your system.
You will notice there is also a preset for Sci-Fi Warrior render settings. Optionally you can click this, too, but this is kind of a dark render, so maybe try it with and without to see the difference.
On the top-right of the screen is the viewport. At the moment it is set to perspective, and you need it to look through the camera. Click the drop-down in the top-right of the viewport frame and select the camera from the drop-down.
This will frame the shot properly. The shot is in a 16:9 aspect ratio, but it’s set to quite a low resolution. You can change that in the render settings, but we’ll cover refinements like that when we do a session on Daz 3D render settings. For now go with the defaults.
To render the scene you can click the Render button in the render settings, but there is a convenient camera button in the top-right of the screen. Click (or press CTRL-R) and the scene will begin to render.
Once the scene has rendered, you will be prompted to save it. Type in a name, and the picture will be saved to your render library in Documents/Daz3D on your system.
Objects, Clothes and Rooms
The most interesting thing about the Daz 3D system is how they monetise what is basically free software. If the users want additional clothes and environments for their models to sit or stand in, they can pay a small fee and purchase them. Most are only a few bucks, but their shop regularly does offers and freebies which will keep you in new assets for ages before you actually have to lay out any money.
Plus, the basic package does come with a bunch of free assets in terms of models and fully-realised scenes for you to render and play with.
Also, as well as physical objects, you can download motion-captured action poses and animations for the figures, so you can do animations with the human figures, too, but more about that another time.
Now you are all set up with Daz 3D. There isn’t a simpler or more powerful way into 3D figure modelling that we know of, and the price of entry is free or at least very cheap to get started.
If you’ve enjoyed this tutorial or have any questions, please share your thoughts in the comments section below.